In this tutorial we are going to learn how to blend and distort different desert landscape stock images to create a dynamic fisheye-like perspective and use different adjustment layers to get different coloring and feel to the manipulation so let’s get started!
This tutorial was originally published on Jan 5, 2012.
Preview of Final Results
Open a new file in Photoshop.It should be about 7200 pixels wide by 4800 pixels high and 300dpi of resolution.(You can do half this sizes if this is to big for you to work in).
Drag the Rock formation stock image into your document and rotate it slightly towards one side.This will helps us start building our perspective.
Now place the desert stock image right on top of the rock formation layer and rotate it to match their position. You can lower this layer’s opacity if you are having trouble matching them.
Add a layer mask to the desert layer and using a Soft brush (B) hardness 0% erase the top part of the image so that the horizon matches the rock formation and they blend with each other:
Now we are going to start working on the blending between the two images. First we need to match the color of the sand on the desert stock with the rock formation image.Go to Image>Adjustments>Levels (or Ctrl+L)and apply the next settings to match the lightning:
Now go to Image>Adjustments>Hue and Saturation to adjust the color:
Go to Image>Adjustments>Brightness and Contrast to do the final adjusting:
This is how your image should look like:
Although we matched most of the color on both images,they are not quite blended yet,they need to have a smoother transition between them.To fix this we are going to use the Cloning Stamp Tool (S) to soften the edges where the two blend.Create a new layer on top of the desert images,with the Clone tool selected, take a soft (0% hardness) large round brush with the opacity set to 45% and the sample option set to “Current and Below”. While holding Alt click somewhere in the image that will be the source point we are going to clone.Once you selected your source point,brush over the edges of the image where both Deserts meet.
Sample new sources as much as you need. Do the same along the edge to blend both images together.
Keep repeating this step until your blending looks something like this:
Select all your layers and merge them together.(Ctrl+E)You can duplicate them and save them for later if you wish to have a backup before merging them. We need to flatten this layers to a single one because we are going to distort it to make the weird looking perspective effect. Once you have your layers merged,go to Edit>Transform>Warp and curve the image like in the example below:
Try and experiment while doing this, it might need some time to get the desired result well done.
All the Warping can leave some white spots and some bad blending between the images so we need to fix that. Using the pen tool (P) or the Lasso Tool (L) draw a selection of the parts that need to be filled or blended.Use a feather of about 5 pixels on the selections to make the blending process easier.As you can se on the image below we need to fill some parts of sand and sky.First we need to do a selection on the sand part like shown below:
Create a new layer on top of the warped desert layer and go back to the Cloning stamp tool. We are going to use the same settings but this time we need the brush to be at 100% opacity. Just like we did on step 4,sample parts of the desert to clone on the empty areas.
Don’t use any feather on the selections whenever there is a sharp edge to fill like in the example below:
Watch out for any borders and bad blending:
The sky are can be a little bit tricky because of the contrasting shade of colors,Try to sample colors that are right next to the spot you need to fill and to this several times to get an even blending.
Now we are going to add some vignetting to enhance the focal point that will be the statue in the middle. Create a new layer on top of all the desert layers and Select black as your foreground color.Grab a large round brush with 0% hardness ,set to 40% opacity and brush along the edges of the canvas like in the example:
Set this layer’s blending mode to “Overlay”.
Create another layer and set your Brush now to something about 25% opacity brush again over the edges but now set this layer’s blending mode to “Multiply”.
Take the Statue stock image and open it in Photoshop.Go to Image>Image Rotation>Flip Canvas Horizontal.Then using the pen tool,Extract the statue from the background maintaining as much detail as possible and then drag it to your document resize if necessary.
Once you have the statue image set on your document,we need to make a shadow for it to cast on the sand.Duplicate the statue layer and bring up the Hue and Saturation menu (Ctrl+U) bring the Lightness value to -100:
Move this layer below the statue layer.Now we need to transform it to match the perspective of the floor.While in the Move tool (V) Hold Ctrl and drag the anchor points of the shape down to create the effect of perspective.Use the image below as reference.
Go to Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and apply a blur with a radius of about 21 pixels:
Now we need to warp a little bit the shape to match the curve of the floor:
Take the Eraser tool (E) and select a soft round brush with 70% opacity and erase the upper part of the shadow.
In this step we are going to create all the adjustment layers that will give the image a very nice contrast and coloring.I suggest you group all this layers inside a new Group (Ctrl+G) and keep it on top of all the desert and statue layers,this way we can have things more organized. First we need to change the Curves setting on the image.Go to Layer>New Adjustment Layer>Curves and use the settings below to get nice contrast on the image:
Now we are going to use several color fill layers in different layer blending modes and opacities to get the color.Below the Curves layer, Create a new Color Fill Layer,to do this, go to Layer>New Fill Layer>Solid Color. For the first Layer use a Dark blue color #070d5f with the layer blending mode set to “Overlay” with 25% opacity. For the second one, use a Red color #d30c0c with the layer blending mode set to “Overlay” and 15% opacity. The third one should be a dark green #007711 set to “Color” with the layer opacity set at 20%. The last one should be an orange color #cb4105 set to “Color” with the layer opacity also at 20%.
Try experimenting with the order,opacity and color of this layers to get different results.
Go back to the main Statue layer and extract one of the arrows.
We are going to duplicate this layer several times and place them around the Statue to enhance our concept and composition.First, I added more arrow around the body of the Statue:
No duplicate an place some arrows on the sand.Increase the size of the arrows as they get near to the from of the image and decrease their size as they go farther away.
Blur the arrows as the gradually get bigger in size.Use a Gaussian blur for this.Increase the blur radius accordingly to the size and proximity:
We need to add now shadows for each arrow.You can do this by duplicating the arrow and rotating it to match the perspective of the floor (use the shadow of the statue as a reference).Apply a Gaussian blur of about 10 pixels to the shadows and erase the ends so they fade just like we did we the shadow of the statue
As an added detail, we are going to add some sparks on the left side of the image.Take the Fireworks stock image and drag it to your Document. Using the Lasso Tool (L) select a section of the image and paste it into a new layer.
I want the sparks to be a bright red color to match the image. To do this go to the Hue and Saturation Menu (Ctrl+U) and use the next settings:
Using the warp tool,distort the image to get a curved shape:
Change the layer blending mode to “Lighten”.You can also duplicate this layer and resize or blur to get different position on the sparks.